Peter Elvik, the shooter in an August 1995 murder at a Carson City gun range, says he was misrepresented by his lawyer during trial.
In a Friday hearing asking for a new trial, Elvik, 19, alleges that information that would have bolstered his claim of self-defense was withheld by attorney Scott Freeman during the trial in 1996.
Through Las Vegas attorney Tom Michaelides, Elvik argued that testimony that he was under the influence of LSD at the time of the killing might prove that he could display an irrational behavior. He said the victim William Gibson, 63 at the time, had reached for a holstered pistol when Elvik had demanded - at gunpoint - the keys to his car.
"It makes you hallucinate, see things that aren't there - see things differently," Elvik testified. "Normally I would not shoot somebody. But I was on acid and I did it. So it must have had some effect on me."
Elvik was convicted of first degree murder and robbery by a Carson City jury in November 1996. Barring a successful appeal or other legal remedy, he will be 64 years old when he is eligible for release from the Nevada Prison System.
The day of the murder, Elvik carried a shotgun through East Carson, past the 7-Eleven store and on to the gun and pistol range. He shot Gibson four times and robbed him before fleeing to Tustin, Calif., his mother's home. At the age of 14, he had only lived in Carson City for a few months with his grandparents and was set to go to Douglas High School.
Now Elvik is saying his youth and inexperience contributed to his alleged mistreatment by Freeman. In addition to the LSD angle, he said several other points of his defense were not fairly represented:
- A motion to suppress two confessions should have been more thoroughly litigated. Michaelides said Elvik's age should prevented the admission of at least one confession where no lawyer and no guardian was present and that the questions were manipulated so that he answered inaccurately. The doctor who would have testified said "My theory about his suggestibility was much much stronger that any theory about distinguishing right from wrong."
Also, Elvik's lack of sleep during the interviews should have been explained by a medical expert.
- During the trial, a doctor who diagnosed Elvik as being mentally unstable should have been called to the stand.
- A change of venue should have been sought.
Freeman testified in the afternoon, saying his defense was the best considering Elvik's circumstances.
He said Elvik assured him he had not been using LSD. And that during a motion to suppress the confession, calling the expert might be detrimental to the defense because of some mental questions that could come out.
"I think it was a favorable tactic for Peter," he said.
The hearing will continue with an expected decision by Judge Michael Griffin on Thursday.